LBJ’s Unconstitutional Amendment

In 1954, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson was running for re-election.

In a tradition that dates back to the founding of our country, certain pastors were speaking out about LBJ’s unethical behavior and they endorsed LBJ’s opponent. The pastors had every right to do so…the first amendment protects their free speech:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Got that? Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion; or abridging the freedom of speech

Constitution? LBJ didn’t care about no stinkin’ Constitution! He pushed a little-known amendment (passed by voice vote) to an IRS bill that became the law that barred tax-exempt groups – including churches – from participating in political activity. The penalty: loss of tax-exempt status.

The new power given to the IRS not only stifles the First Amendment rights of pastors and churches, but the IRS has been selective and biased in its enforcement.

Barry Soetoro (a.k.a. “Barack Hussein Obama II” if you believe his photoshopped Certificate of Live Birth) and Hillary Clinton can speak from a church pulpit with immunity, but if Mike Huckabee, an ordained pastor, were to speak from a church pulpit while running for office, the IRS would likely try to take away that church’s tax exempt status.

LBJ’s amendment was and is a violation of the first amendment. It is completely unconstitutional, and needs to be done away with. My preferred way to see that happen is to do away with the IRS altogether…it’s time to go with the Fair Tax.

Update: Related links…

The Pulpit Initiative
Reclaiming pastors’ constitutional right to speak Truth from the pulpit

Oklahoma City-area churches may face IRS investigations

The History of the 1954 Johnson Amendment

Repeal the Johnson Amendment

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6 Responses to LBJ’s Unconstitutional Amendment

  1. DanMan says:

    I did not know about LBJ’s amendment but the selective enforcement is ridiculously obvious.

  2. When it comes to the Founders and the Constitution, David Barton knows orders of magnitude more than Jon Stewart.

    Jon Stewart threw every straw man (that his staff gave him on note cards) that he could at David Barton, and Barton knocked every single one of those straw men down. Barton has spent decades studying thousands of primary source documents. Stewart has spent minutes, possibly hours, studying the note cards his staff gave him. It was no contest. Every time Stewart threw a false accusation at Barton, Barton countered with the truth. And every time, Stewart would interrupt Barton’s answer. Stewart could only crack a joke or change the subject; he couldn’t have a straight-up discussion of the truth.–1–2—david-barton-extended-interview-pt–1—david-barton-extended-interview-pt–2—david-barton-extended-interview-pt–3

    I would love to see a similar discussion between David Barton and “Constitutional Law” lecturer Barack Obama.

    When it comes to the Founders and the Constitution, David Barton knows orders of magnitude more than Barack Obama.

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  5. 2. IRC 501(c)(3) Organizations and the Political Campaign Prohibition

    A. History of the Statutes

    (1) Enactment of the Prohibition

    Prior to 1954, there was no statutory provision absolutely prohibiting organizations described in the antecedents of IRC 501(c)(3) from engaging in political campaign activities. The political campaign prohibition does have a vague and unenacted antecedent, however. What eventually became the Revenue Act of 1934, under which the lobbying restriction of IRC 501(c)(3) was first enacted, at one time contained a provision extending the prohibition to “participation in partisan politics.” S. Rep. No. 73-558, 73d Cong., 2d Sess. 26 (1934). The provision, however, was deleted in conference, so that only the lobbying restriction remained. H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 73-1385, 73d Cong., 2d Sess. 3-4 (1934). In explaining its deletion, Representative Samuel B. Hill stated: “We were afraid this provision was too broad.” 78 Cong. Rec. 7,831 (1934).

    During Senate consideration of what became the Revenue Act of 1954, Lyndon Johnson, then Senate Minority Leader, added a floor amendment to provide that IRC 501(c)(3) organizations may not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.” Johnson stated “. . . [t]his amendment seeks to extend the provisions of section 501 of the House bill, denying tax-exempt status to not only those people who influence legislation but also to those who intervene in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.” 100 Cong. Rec. 9,604 (1954). The amendment was accepted; no debate or discussion took place. The Conference Report (H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 83-2543, 83d Cong., 2d Sess. (1954)) contains no further discussion of the amendment.

    There is an obvious disconnect between the language of the provision and the stated intent of its author. The 1954 amendment prohibits political campaign activities by IRC 501(c)(3) organizations while the provision to which it is analogized only restricts attempts to influence legislation by those organizations. This is a knot no one has been able, or even attempted, to untangle.




    The Enactment of the Political Campaign Prohibition for Charitable Organizations

    As mentioned above, there is no legislative history concerning the enactment of the political campaign prohibition beyond the mere fact that Lyndon Johnson proposed it and it was accepted and enacted.

    Why Johnson proposed the political campaign prohibition in the first place has been the subject of considerable interest. At least four scenarios have been proposed; three of which indicate that the purpose was to punish a charitable organization that was assisting his opponent, Dudley Dougherty, in the 1954 Texas Senatorial Primary.


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